These are touching moments among eurozone finance ministers. According to UK daily the Guardian, Christine Lagarde sent an sms to her Greek counterpart George Papaconstantinou in summer 2011 – short after he was replaced from the post of Finance Minister. “We miss you!” Lagarde apparently wrote to the Greek finance minister who on his part ‘missed’ the list she had handed to him a year earlier. The list with the names of 2,069 names of Greek potential tax evaders account holders at HSBC bank of Geneva.
“At the height of Greece’s economic crisis, a few weeks after he had been replaced as finance minister, George Papaconstantinou received a text message from Christine Lagarde. “We miss you!” declared the then French finance minister.
For observers of the Greek political scene, it was easy to see why: the sophisticated, LSE-trained economist Papaconstantinou, who had spent more than half his life abroad, in London, New York and Paris, was a far cry from his less cosmopolitan successor, Evangelos Venizelos.
Lagarde, only months away from becoming head of the International Monetary Fund, felt she had lost a friend.
Now, however, as he stands at the centre of the biggest tax evasion scandal to erupt in Greece in decades, Papaconstantinou’s name engenders shock and consternation among mandarins in the EU and at the IMF. From being the darling of reform-minded policymakers in the west, the man most associated with the modernising policies Greece so desperately needs faces accusations of not only failing to crack down on tax-dodging – which, at more than €27bn (£21.8bn) a year, is the biggest single drain on the debt-stricken Greek economy – but also of doctoring a list of suspected culprits to remove the names of three of his own relatives. (full article)
Yes, the ex darling and the ex EZ friend is being cornered nowadays. Now matter how loud he claims, he is being used as scapegoat, he is finished in the eyes of his former party colleagues.
I think nowadays, Lagarde could send Papaconstantinou an sms reading “Sad to see you go”, one of those conventional messages websites send to fans unsubscribing from mailing lists. Or she could accuse him of betraying her confidence…